In nearly all systems of religion, ancient or modern, we see beings such as angels. These winged spirits are part of the mystery of most cultures. The Greeks called them horae. In Persia they were fereshta. The Chinese designed slanted roofs on buildings to prevent demons from gaining a foothold on the structure and entering. Babylonian culture pictured winged spirits. Socrates referred to a good demon (daemon) that took care of him.
There are nearly 300 references to angels in the Bible. The Bible speaks of both holy and evil angels. Popular thinking today tends to ignore the existence of evil angels.
Angels are not eternal, but they are immortal. Once there were no angels. That means they were created and therefore not eternal. All angels will live forever, therefore they are immortal. Angels were created by God before time began - before the material universe was brought into existence. (Job 38:4-7) It is apparent that angels were created before man because some of them had fallen by the time Satan tempted Eve and Adam.(Gen. 3: 4-6)
Angels were all created at or about the same time. There are no more angels today than when they were first created. Angels were not formerly men. They were created as angels. They are a direct creation, for they do not procreate as do humans. (Mt. 22: 30) Angels seem to be created by direct command, or fiat of God. (Psa. 148:2-5)
With an instantaneous command, millions of creatures came into existence. Since they do not reproduce, there is no increase in their number. Since they do not die, there is no decrease in their number. The only change came when Satan was banished from heaven with a third of the angels who followed him in his rebellion. (Rev. 12:4) Those who followed Lucifer became demons. All angels will live forever - some in hell, some in heaven. (John MacArthur - God, Satan, and Angels)
Angels are divided into two basic categories according to their nature. These two groups are: are the holy-elect and the evil-unclean. According to this allegiance they are angels of God (John 1:51), or the devil and his angels (Matthew 25:41).
The Bible indicates that there are several special classifications of angels. It would appear that both the evil angels and the holy angels are divided into these classifications. One class is the Cherubim. This is the highest class of angels. They are so awesome that they are not able to be described in human terms. The cherubim were created by God with unspeakable power and beauty.
The cherubim are first seen in the garden of Eden. (Genesis 3:24) They are stationed with flaming swords at the gait of the garden to prevent fallen man from access to the tree of life. The cherubim are also seen as golden images on the mercy seat and ark of the covenant. (Exodus 25:17) The cherubim are also seen in the vision of Ezekiel. There they are described as awesome, complex, holy creatures.(Ezekiel 1:5-6)
The duty of the cherubim (plural for cherub) is different from that of other angels. The exact Hebrew meaning for the title cherub is not known, but it has been suggested that it means "to guard." They are not messengers. They are to proclaim the glory, holiness and sovereignty of God.
Another of the special classes of angels are the Seraphim. They too are associated with the glory of God. The name seraphim in Hebrew means the "burning ones." They are afire with the with adoration for God. (Isaiah 6:3;6-7)
The angel Michael is designated as the Archangel. (Jude 9) This title puts him ahead of the other angels. We find him (Revelation 12:7) as a military leader. It is not certain if Michael is the only archangel or if there are others. (Daniel 10:13) He is described as one of the chief princes.
Angels are further divided into ranks. These ranks are rulers, principalities, powers, thrones and dominions. (Colossians 1:16; 1 Peter 3:22; Ephesians 1:20-21). One cannot be sure exactly what these ranks of angels are.
There is no definite number of angels recorded in scriptures. There are however many clues as to their numbers. At His betrayal, Christ could have called upon God for 12 legions of angels. (Matt 26:53) In the time of Caesar, a legion numbered 6,000 men, with an equal number of men as auxiliary troops. If there is a parallel in the number of angels and the number of soldiers, then the number that could have been called was 144,000. Of course Christ could have called all the angels if he would have. Perhaps the total number of angels could compare with the total number of humans in all of history. (Matt 18:10) Perhaps the number of angels might be compared with the number of stars in the universe. (Job 38:7; Psalms 148:1-3; Rev 9:1-2) That number would run into the billions. John saw in a vision "ten thousand times ten thousand, and thousands of thousands - that equals 100 million and untold thousands besides.
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